Creating a Career Plan? First, Assess Your Skills

“Planning is bringing the future into the present, so that you can do something about it now.”

Alan Lakein

Whether you are changing career fields, re-entering the workforce or seeking a promotion, having a career plan is an absolute must. Creating the plan, however, isn’t always as easy as knowing your end goal, and discovering the starting point can be overwhelming. A manageable way to start this process is to assess your skills, so that you can best determine your next steps.

So what does a skills assessment look like?  Let’s take a strategic approach.

There are three different types of skills you possess:

  1. Specific hard skills are abilities you can only apply to a particular job or industry. Degrees, licenses and certifications may fall into this category, but think about the other things you do as part of your job, internship or volunteer work. Taking vital signs, for example, does not require a certification, degree or license; however, it is something that is only done in the medical industry.
  2. Transferrable hard skills are skills you learn on or for the job, but can be done in any industry you are pursuing. For example, filing medical records is done in the medical industry, but you also need to organize and maintain client files in social work. This list is usually easier to make, and you will find that you have many skills that can transfer from one industry to another.
  3. Soft skills describe your personal attributes. Skills such as being creative, dedicated, courteous, energetic, etc., are always transferrable since they are a part of your professional personality.  If you get stuck, there is no need for panic! Run an Internet search on the phrase “soft skills list” and find the best descriptors that uniquely define you.

Now that you have your lists of skills, you can use them to strategize a successful career plan. First, do you have all the necessary skills to move forward with your plan? If not, what skills do you need, and do you have the means or resources to gain new skills if needed? If additional skills are what you need, consider checking out your local Goodwill® programs to see if they can assist you in achieving these necessary skills.

Change is never easy, but do not fret. Your plan won’t happen overnight regardless of the need for additional skills.  Keep the following quote in mind: “There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.”  So access your skills, create your plan and take the first step to success!

You can pick up career advice, including working on soft skills and translating hard skills into career paths, on GoodProspects. Feature articles, virtual career mentors and our unique community of job seekers and career advancers can all help you get ahead.